Public art is alive in more than 80 different locations around Palm Springs, from the “Rainmaker Fountain” by David Morris to the “Agua Caliente Women” by Doug Hyde to the multicolored still coils or “noodles” by John Clement to the colorful oversized dogs and cats by local artists Karen and Tony Barone.
They add color, interest, and long-term viability to Palm Springs.
The Palm Springs Public Arts Commission will celebrate 30 years of accumulating and maintaining these public art pieces, among others, with two events Oct. 11 and 14. On Thursday, there will be an unveiling of an 8 foot felt map by local artist Sarah Scheideman, with a concept by public arts commissioner, Tracy Merrigan.
“The idea is to show an overview of where all the public art is here in Palm Springs,” says Merrigan.
“The map is meant to create awareness and start a dialogue with the people of Palm Springs. We want to get everyone’s input. Since the map is made of felt, it will be interactive. It’ll get people engaged more than the commission’s paper maps that quickly became outdated as they acquired new pieces.”
Merrigan says they have other events planned for the year that will take the felt map with them.
On Saturday (Oct. 14), the “Art is Here” free block party open to the public will be held on the street across from the Palm Springs Art Museum from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Along the closed street, there will be art activities, such as make-your-own felt art projects and screen printing, says Schneideman.
PHOTOGRAPH © TRACY MERRIGAN 2018
“Imagine Art Here”, by artist Scott Froschauer.
In the under developed space across from the museum, attendees will get a chance to view three new acquisitions, says Merrigan. The most noticeable is the “Babies” sculptures by Czech artist, David Cerny. The eight babies with barcodes for faces originally were climbing up the Prague Radio Tower as a comment on communism, explains Merrigan. You can only see the babies from a distance because they are sectioned off by a fence and placed in a pit.
• See our story, Babies on Board.
“But people come from all over the city come to photograph them” says Schneideman.
A wall plaque attached to the fence at one end explains the concept by Cerney and shows the babies on the Prague Radio Tower.
Across the street, in front of the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs, is another sculpture acquisition called, “Isabelle,” by German artist Julian Voss-Andre. It depicts a nude woman kneeling made from plates of brushed steel sitting on a round pedestal. Christian Hohmann, from Hohmann Fine Art Gallery, helped in locating the art piece and its complex installation, which is lit from below at night. The video of the unveiling can be found on the gallery’s website.
“At one point, as you walk around Isabelle, and she completely disappears” explains Merrigan.
On an opposite wall is a installation by Colette Miller called, “Wings.” It depicts a colorful life-sized pair of angel wings painted directly onto the wall. Individuals stand up against the wall for selfies that look like he or she is wearing angel wings. As Merrigan watches as tourists and locals take pictures of themselves with Miller’s “Wings,” and Voss-Andre’s “Isabelle,” she feels content that the arts commission has done its job right.
“People are engaged and talking about public art, and that’s what we want,” says Merrigan.
There’s no set guidelines for acquiring public artworks like these, says Merrigan. Oftentimes, gallery owners like Hohmann and others come to their public meetings to suggest certain works of art. “And if an individual sculptor wanted to make a proposal for his own work, he’s welcome to come to the meetings. But it would be good to get advance notice of something like that,” she says. “Whatever sculptures we chose over the years, we have to think about how we can maintain them too.”
She says the commission is proud of its acquisitions of the past 30 years, and are excited about the future. “Our goal is quality, not quantity of strong contemporary art pieces,” Merrigan says.
“Art is Here” Block Party, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 14, in front of the Palm Springs Art Museum, 100 Museum Drive. palmspringslife.com/events.